Tokyo: Day One

Today I went to the National Museum, which is closed on Mondays, along with everything else. This is the same reason that I have almost no photos of the inside of anything in Hanoi. I met a couple of Australians, Brian and Prue, who also failed to read their guidebook carefully. We ended up spending most of the day bumming around Tokyo together. They’ve lived in Scotland for five years and are taking the long way home over a few months. More than half the tourists I’ve met have been Australians. I’ve not met any Americans. Prue was looking for gifts for Brian’s nieces, but Brian had other ideas.

We walked around the Senso-ji Shrine which had some traditional and more modern statues.

A Dutch woman, Marrigje, is traveling around the world taking pictures of the interiors of people’s houses. It’s really tough in Japan because people are often uncertain of how to act around foreigners. She wanders around with a medium format camera, a huge tripod and a letter in Japanese introducing her and what she’s trying to do. She speaks no Japanese, and only two or three people each day let her in to their homes. She showed us some scanned images of her photos my first night here. It was very interesting to see the struggle [her word] between traditional furnishings (low tables and mats on the floor) and western style furniture. The rooms are quite small, and seem even smaller when you stick a couch, table, and an entertainment center in them. They also seem to split the difference a bit, for example chairs with backs but no legs, or desks that are six inches shorter than western ones so it seems there would be no comfortable way to sit at them, with or without a chair.

It’s been very overcast and rainy so far, so I haven’t gotten much for photos. Everything has a flat gray background. My friend Luke was here during a typhoon which helped blow away the clouds. I don’t think I’ll have that kind of luck. I’m headed to Kyoto. Today I need to find a train ticket and a place to stay in Kyoto. I’ll also be headed back to the National Museum, and out to the Meiji Shrine.

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